Arsenal are preparing to negotiate with Manchester United defender Chris Smalling over a possible transfer in the foreseeable future.
The £10 million-rated centre-back is reportedly out of favour with his current club, having failed to make a positive impact in the first-team squad. As a result Arsene Wenger has eyed him as a potential candidate for alleviating his woes at the back, with a January transfer possible due to United’s willingness to sell.
At present Wenger has Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy out injured, meaning that his defence has been massively stretched over the past few weeks.
With summer signing Calum Chambers pushed out to right-back the partnership of Per Mertesacker and natural full-back Nacho Monreal has looked less than convincing, and some fans are now questioning whether opting not to replace Thomas Vermaelen with a like-for-like player was a poor move.
According to the Daily Express Arsenal hope to sit down with Smalling’s representatives in the coming weeks, and Wenger is keen to recruit him due to his versatility as a player.
Smalling in the Premier League
The former Fulham star can operate effectively at centre-back, right-back or even midfield, and his experience playing at the highest level in the Premier League means he won’t have to take time to adapt to the English game.
It remains to be seen how Gunners fans will react should a purchase go through, as Smalling’s reputation has taken something of a battering since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
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The legendary Scot saw enough potential in him to buy him from Fulham after just a year in the top flight, though a poor campaign under David Moyes, and an equally uncertain start to life under Louis van Gaal has undone the promising groundwork.
As for Smalling, who's contract at United sees him take home £50,000-a-week, the move will certainly represent a chance to get himself more game-time. At the moment he’s been used frequently by Van Gaal, but that could be down to the fact that the Dutchman has little options with regards to an alternative.
The likes of Jonny Evans and Phil Jones have been absent through injury, and academy graduate Paddy McNair can hardly be considered genuine competition at this stage of his career.